We are really happy to share how your JTree donations last year are really making a difference to people and the landscape in Kenya.
The Saiwa Swamp Project in Kenya through our planting partners The International Tree Foundation raised 1/4 of its funds from your donations to JTree. The project, in partnership with Kipsaina Cranes and Wildlife Conservation Group (KCWCG), involved working with local communities to restore the wetlands in Saiwa Swamp National Park, Western Kenya.
Wetlands play a critical role in mitigating climate change and safeguarding biodiversity. The wetlands in Saiwa Swamp are a vital source of natural resources for local communities. They are also a key habitat for rare wildlife species such as the Grey Crowned Crane, DeBrazza monkey and the aquatic Sitatunga Antelope.
Decades of deforestation, overuse of commercial fertilisers and eucalyptus cultivation have had an adverse effect on the wetlands resulting in:
- Land degradation;
- Soil erosion;
- Soil pollution;
- Reduced access to clean water for neighbouring communities; and
- A rise in human-wildlife conflict. Local farmers are increasingly setting up deadly traps to stop animals from the park from eating their produce.
Thanks to your donations, this project aims to:
- Reforest the riparian margins of Saiwa Swamp by planting 15,000 indigenous trees to create a buffer between the swamp and neighbouring farms benefiting local communities and wildlife;
- Raise awareness on environmental conservation and promote the unique role the wetlands play in mitigating climate change and safeguarding biodiversity; and
- Improve livelihoods of local communities through tree planting and training on sustainable land management, tree nursery establishment and management.
ITF are working closely with KCWCG to ensure that there is strong buy-in at the community level and they have established tri-partite relationships with government authorities such as the Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service for technical support and additional oversight.
On top of a commitment by 25 farmers to plant and grow indigenous trees, this project has led to positive outcomes including:
- A pledge by 35 community elders to spread environmental conservation awareness; and
- Positive engagement with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to resolve the human-wildlife conflict:
- Neighbouring communities were encouraged to plant napier grass around their farms to deter animals;
- Farmers were encouraged to plant indigenous trees so that De Brazza monkeys can feed on wild fruits instead of their produce; and
- Community members have since requested further meetings with KWS wardens.
Because of your support, smallholder farmers can improve soil fertility and agricultural productivity through training on indigenous tree planting, nursery establishment and management.
“The project has really helped us in many ways. First, when we plant trees, soil erosion is reduced,” says Lily. “People are amazed by some trees which are rare and thus it tends to bring beauty to the surroundings. This makes us very happy. The trees also help in breaking wind which protects other smaller vegetation from breaking or falling.”
Thanks to your support, 12,000 tree seedlings have been planted and the remaining 3,000 will be planted in the next planting season which starts this month. KCWCG is closely monitoring trees planted and any seedlings that do not survive will be replaced in the next tree planting season. On top of that, 25 smallholder farmers have been trained on tree nursery establishment and management. Now they can plant and grow trees on their farms that benefit their families and their local environment.
This wonderful work is made possible through the generosity and ongoing commitment of supporters like you to planting trees that benefit both people and the planet. Together, we are planting trees that restore degraded landscapes and ensure that people at the forefront of the climate crisis have access to vital resources as well as the capacity to build sustainable livelihoods that enhance their wellbeing.
Please, continue to donate to plant trees through JTree for more positive change like this.